After three weeks of preseason, there are several major updates to the offensive line rankings. Unless another major injury occurs, this will be the last major re-rank prior to opening day. Let's get after it.
New York (AFC) plus 3
In Friday night’s win over the Atlanta Falcons, the Jets’ first team offensive line opened up some huge holes for tailback Chris Ivory, most notably springing him for a 33 yard touchdown run. The first team lineup appears to be set, with right guard Willie Colon locking down his starting position from last season. With improved cohesion, and 5 solid veterans starting, the Jets’ offensive line currently grades just inside the line for top tier status, 10th overall in the latest rankings.
Detroit plus 2
The Lions got some good news as right tackle LaAdrian Waddle has been activated of the PUP list. The team needs this player, as Cornelius Lucas has been penalty prone in the preseason. Left guard Manny Ramirez has assumed the role of mentor for the Lions’ offensive line, especially working with first round rookie Laken Tomlinson. This is extremely altruistic, as Tomlinson is probably going to take Ramirez’s job at some point, if not this season, then in the future. With Waddle back in the lineup, the Lions grade out as 17th in the latest ranking, a solid mid-tier unit.
DENVER PLUS 15
With the signing of Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis, the Broncos elevate to 15th overall, a 15 slot jump from 30th last ranking. The team hopes that Mathis will provide veteran leadership between two first time starters in LT Ty Sambrailo and C Matt Paradis. Mathis should be an outstanding fit in the zone blocking schme. The Broncos’ offensive line was on high alert during Peyton Manning’s preseason start, his first this year. The line kept Manning’s jersey clean and the offense looked to be focused on high tempo, quick release passing plays. Penalties were a bit of an issue, as left tackle Ty Sambrailo had a clipping penalty early, and right tackle Ryan Harris had a false start. Still Sambrailo did the job in pass protection, holding off Whitney Mercilus for most of the night. While he lacks an overpowering physique, Sambrailo's lower body quickness is a great fit for this scheme. Right guard Louis Vasquez was a stud opening up holes in the running game. Vasquez and Mathis will make the case to be the best guard duo in the game. Left guard Max Garcia and center Matt Paradis got through the night without incident. Overall, the line was stable and did not allow a sack on either Manning or Osweiler. The line had a good game overall and has been upgraded to a mid-tier ranking, based on the signing of Mathis and the quality play from the young prospects at the left tackle and center positions.
Pittsburgh minus 12
The Steelers got some incredibly bad news this weekend as All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey fractured his ankle, and will miss at least half the regular season, if not the whole thing. Pouncey was rolled up on in blocking and the injury requires surgery. Pouncey could be placed on the injured reserve. In his place the undersized but scrappy Cody Wallace will be in the mix. Wallace has a mean streak but is probably not well suited to be a starter every week in the NFL. The team realizes this and has signed Doug Legursky with the hope that Legursky can start over Wallace. Without Pouncey, the Steelers’ line drops from 3rd overall to 15th in the offensive line rankings. This unit, once on target to be one of the league’s best, is now grading out as a mid-tier line.
Chicago Minus 7
The Bears have essentially benched last year's starting right tackle Jordan Mills, in favor of Charles Leno. Leno did not have a good game against the Colts, and the situation seems to still be fluid. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod left practice on Tuesday when his back injury flared. This injury has forced Bushrod to miss time earlier in preseason and the rankings assume that it is not serious, and he will be ready for opening day. Should Bushrod not be ready, Leno would slide to left tackle and Mills would regain his right tackle position.
Indianapolis minus 4
The Colts’ first team offensive line had a rough night against the Bears on Saturday night. Pass rushers got to quarterback Andrew Luck three times in his first five drop backs. Right tackle Jack Mewhort was beaten soundly by Pernell McPhee on the Colts’ second offensive play of the game. The Colts’ line is certainly not better off without right tackle Godser Cherilus and they have been downgraded to a low tier grade in the rankings.
Seattle minus 11
The Seahawks line is in turmoil and have been downgraded to the low-tier. Last year's starter at right tackle Justin Britt was moved to left guard. Britt had a rough rookie campaign at that position and could be better suited for a move to the inside. However the move hurts cohesion in the near term. Currently Garry Gilliam and Alvin Bailey are splitting time at right tackle. The line was out of sorts against the Chiefs, who had a field day pass rushing Russell Wilson. The team is not thrilled with Lemuel Jeanpierre and are reportedly looking at center Samson Satele in free agency. Another possibility is former Eagles’ guard Evan Mathis, who is visited the team this weekend. The Seahawks do not have a ton of cap room, however, and a Mathis signing could be out of their budget.
Patriots trade late round draft pick for Lions RT Michael Williams
Williams is a converted tight end from Alabama who spent last season on the Lions practice squad. Williams actually showed decently this preseason. but he couldn't win over the Lions' coaches when they needed a replacement for LaAdrian Waddle. The coaches chose Cornelius Lucas over Williams, who is another interesting but raw developmental player. The Lions have been on a hot streak finding these types for the past few seasons. Now that Waddle is activated from the PUP list, they didn't need this player. The most famous converted college tight end is probably Jason Peters. While Williams is probably unlikely to achieve that level of success, it should be noted that Peters took two full years on and off the Bills taxi squad before he became a starter.
As usual, if you have a question about a team not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact me via twitter or in the Shark Pool.
|10||NYJ||13||3||30.35||B+||A-||B-||RG Colon to start.|
|15||PIT||4||-11||29.15||B-||B-||B||C Pouncey fractured ankle.|
|16||DET||19||3||28.98||B-||B-||B-||RT Waddle activated|
|18||DEN||30||12||28.6||C+||C||C+||LT Sambrailo looking good.|
|24||CHI||20||-4||27.9||C||C||C||RT Mills benched for Leno.|
|26||IND||21||-5||27.85||C||C||B-||RT Mewhort unsteady.|
|28||SEA||17||-11||27.65||C-||C+||D+||LG,RT swap, line in turmoil.|